Rumblings on the Norwegian Cruise Line forum alerted Cruise Critic to the fact that there is a Norovirus outbreak on Norwegian Pearl, which is en route back to Miami after a nine-night southern Caribbean sailing that started on November 30. The outbreak may cause the ship's next sailing, slated to depart on December 9, to be delayed.
At noon (EST) yesterday, member JJSlim posted that he had heard from two people onboard the ship that there was a possible outbreak. Nothing at that time had been posted to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Web site. Later, member Dogbeau posted from the Pearl, stating that indeed there is an outbreak and that the line of ill passengers stretching out the door of the medical center was very long.
Today the CDC has the information on its Web site, stating that 273 passengers, or just over 11 percent, had been affected. Reports this afternoon from Dogbeau and member Kaitaiga, who is also onboard, indicate that that return trip was interrupted to offload a group of ill passengers via tender just off the coast of Puerto Rico.
Dogbeau claims that a ship's officer stated that more than 600 passengers had become ill. The CDC has not yet posted an update to its original report.
A spokesperson from NCL states that approximately 10 percent of the passengers became ill, and that while the cruise line continues with proactive preventative measures, passengers scheduled for the cruise departing on December 9 will be given the option to cancel without penalty. Further, according to the CDC, embarkation for the sailing will be delayed while further disinfecting takes place and the CDC carries out an extensive investigation.
NCL has not yet responded to our queries about the passengers taken off the ship today.
Second only to the common cold in the number of people affected by the range of pathogens known as Norovirus, they are particularly aggressive on an enclosed cruise ship. They are not airborne viruses and can only be acquired by contact, so it’s imperative to wash your hands frequently and use the sanitizers provided.
We'll keep you posted as we learn more.
--by Jana Jones, Cruise Critic contributor
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Noro Outbreak on Norwegian Pearl May Cause Delay
December 7, 2007